How To Start a Career Without Going to College First

Mar 27, 2023 11:41:00 AM / by pepelwerk

Here’s great news for anyone who isn’t all in on college: You can get in-demand careers in the 21st century without going to college first. Opportunities in today’s workforce are more skills-driven. The shift is happening in the new jobs that are being created and the approach companies are taking in hiring. 

This evolution, however, isn’t so clear in learning. Learning has become split into two paths: academic tracks and career tracks. Ideally, they would both be worth an investment because they would lead to landing a job that matches your goals. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

So, what does this new paradigm look like, and how can you find the career that’s right for you? Read on to learn more about how to get a career without going to college.


New Jobs Ahead

The world is evolving, and today’s jobs look different than they did in the 20th century. For example, the CHIPS and Science Act is heralding a new era of semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. According to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, “more than 60% of jobs at semiconductor fabs don’t require a degree.” 

Many entry-level technicians can start work with a high school diploma and get additional training to advance. Other roles will need technical associate degrees to gain the necessary skills.

Another area of new job creation is the electric vehicle (EV) market. The rise in production and consumer demand means those vehicles need servicing. However, a skills gap is hindering the industry. A recent article from CNBC included insights from experts. The conclusion was that workers were critical to the transition from gas-powered vehicles to EVs and that the “pace of training” is waning. The jobs emerging in this market are all skills-based.

It's more than just the industrial and automotive sectors looking at hiring differently. Many companies are now rethinking recruiting.


Many Companies No Longer See Colleges as the Only Pipeline for Candidates

Employers have realized that colleges aren’t the only gateway to recruiting good hires. Instead, they are focusing on new ways to identify skills that will fit their available jobs. They want candidates to have a balance of the hard and soft skills that are essential to building their workforce. Many are using innovative approaches to hiring, finding someone with great potential they can develop, including by providing learning opportunities and upskilling. 

Skills-based hiring is on the rise, according to the Harvard Business Review. It reported that between 2017 and 2019, employers reduced degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill positions. These numbers have grown for a lot of in-demand careers. For example, only 43% of IT jobs at Accenture and only 29% at IBM included a degree requirement by the end of 2021.

This evolution in hiring is good for you and future employers, signaling a change in how a candidate is determined to be qualified for a role. As a result, you can focus more on specific skills as you pursue a career. 


Changing Dynamics and the Differences Between Academic and Career Learning

Jobs, employers and the world are changing. As a result, there is a clear distinction between academic learning and career learning. 

With career learning, you choose courses, certifications, licenses and degrees that directly correlate to the tasks and responsibilities of a role. This class of jobs is actually the majority, at approximately 80%. It includes those new jobs of tomorrow discussed earlier. 

Thus, the question to ask yourself isn’t “Should I go to college?” but rather, “What kind of learning do I need?”

By reframing the scenario, you get to make more informed decisions, which you can discuss with a career coach or mentor through the pepelwerk app. 

Academic learning prepares people for careers in science, law, medicine and advanced engineering, which accounts for approximately the other 20% of jobs in the world. Those seeking these paths will always need degrees and years of study. These roles include research scientists, doctors, biologists, economists and attorneys. Academic careers such as these entail learning in a college setting and progressing over time, and they rely heavily on IQ and testing to advance.

The major differences between career learning and academic learning are subject matter, investment in education and what kind of education is necessary. 

You can get a career without going to college. So, what do you need to do to attain those in-demand jobs?


How Do You Prepare for In-Demand Jobs, With or Without College?

If you’ve just graduated high school, are in college or are anywhere in between, you can find the support you need to be ready for in-demand jobs. You can leverage a community such as pepelwerk to help you first identify your goals and natural abilities and align those with in-demand jobs. Then, you get recommendations from career coaches on what education you need to achieve that dream job — it may be community college, a certification or a four-year degree. You don’t have to guess or wander through college, unsure of what to study.  


College and Career Working Together

In the past, the surest way to access better jobs was by earning a four-year degree because that degree held value with employers. Today, however, opportunities for stable, high-paying jobs don’t just come from the college path. You can make your own path and achieve your work-life goals, and pepelwerk is here to guide you. 


If you want to be part of the workforce of tomorrow, pepelwerk has the tools you need for today.  

Get started today by downloading the app.


Change the way you job seek — or you’ll keep repeating the cycle of applications.

Topics: AI Job Matching, Career Readiness


Written by pepelwerk